Currently, in the United States, the average occupant of a light-duty vehicle reportedly spends about an hour a day traveling.

With one of the benefits of self-driving cars expected to be increased productivity, this time could potentially be put to good use. Or could it?

A newly released report finds that in actual fact, the majority of Americans do not believe that self-driving cars will result in an improvement in productivity. Around a quarter (23 per cent) indicated they would not even travel in such vehicles, while more than a third (36 per cent) said they would be so apprehensive in such vehicles that they would only watch the road. Of the remaining 41 per cent, around 8 per cent said they would frequently experience some level of motion sickness, preventing them from doing anything productive.

The report, authored by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle from the University of Michigan’s Sustainable Worldwide Transportation department, highlighted that any expected increased productivity in self-driving vehicles would materialize only if the following can be achieved:

  • An increased confidence of occupants in self-driving vehicles
  • Addressing the inherent motion-sickness problem
  • Solving occupant-protection issues related to non-traditional seating positions and postures, and loose objects becoming projectiles during crashes

The researchers also added that current trips in light-duty vehicles average only about 19 minutes – a short duration for any sustained productive activity, or even a nap.